World cricket is prone to see batting collapses by Pakistan, and most embarrassing ones at them. Another one was added to the list Dambulla in the do-or-die encounter on Saturday. Although Pakistan were thrashed in the second ODI at Hambantota, by 77 runs, the fact was that they still went into the third match of the series with the scores level at 1-1. All Pakistan needed was one great all-round effort from them, like they produced in the opening game, to clinch the series. However, they failed to come up with the same, and instead gave an utterly shambolic account of themselves to concede the series without a fight.
As mentioned earlier, this is nothing new for Pakistan, but in Misbah-Ul-Haq, they have a leader who prides himself on making the team fight hard. This is why, Misbah of all people, would be upset with the manner in which Pakistan succumbed at Dambulla. Wins and losses are part and parcel of cricket, but often it is the manner of defeat that can dishearten the passionate supporters of the team. It has happened in India over the last three years, whenever India have been touring abroad. Pakistan’s fans have been subject to such torture at various points over the last two decades.
Undoubtedly, it was the batting which let Pakistan down in a big manner at Dambulla. Eight of their eleven batsmen finished with single-figure scores, which says a lot about their troubles. Even of the three batsmen who reached double figures, only Fawad Alam made a significant contribution, remaining unbeaten on 38. Opener Ahmed Shehzad fell exactly at 10 while the skipper Misbah himself was disappointing run-out for 18. Pakistan were never going to win with such pathetic numbers on the board.
There is a lot of inexperience in the Pakistan batting, which is why it was imperative for their experienced batsmen to stand up, particular on a day like the one at Dambulla where wickets were falling left, right and centre. But nothing of that sort happened. Mohammed Hafeez batted like a novice, making 1 from 16 balls. Umar Akmal continued to frustrate, failing to come up with a significant knock under the circumstances. He has undoubtedly played enough ODI games to be given the experienced player tag. As for Shahid Afridi, one still cannot decipher what to expect from him. Not surprisingly, he failed again.
Pakistan should be most disappointed that of, all bowlers, they gave away four wickets to Thisara Perera. Without taking any credit away from the medium pacer, it should be mentioned that he is not an extraordinary bowler who can run through opponents. But, the manner in which Pakistan batted against him at Dambulla, they made Perera seem like a great pace bowler. One after the other, they just kept gifting wickets to him, and in no time the series was out of their grasp. Although Sri Lanka were the better of the two sides, Pakistan could have done much better with the talent they possessed, but lack of application again proved a hindrance.
--By A Cricket Analyst